The Kansas City Royals may not be flashy, but they win. This season, the defending American League champions have been known more for their brawls on the field than their play. Kansas City is a small-market franchise, but over the last two seasons, the Royals have certainly regained their winning ways. Coming into the 2015 season, the general thought was that the Royals would likely take a step back from their success a season ago, but as the season turns to June, the Royals are still on top of the AL Central division. But how exactly are they getting things done?
Last season the Royals hit the fewest home runs in the league with 95. But what one of the things that propelled their October run was a barrage of timely long balls from the likes of Eric Hosmer and company. Even with the much improved play of Hosmer, and the continued progression of Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez, the Royals are still in the bottom five of the league in home runs hit. Kansas City may not hit a ton of home runs, but they have found a knack of hitting the timely ones and making them count.
While they may not hit many balls over the fence, the Royals have developed into a methodical offensive juggernaut. They currently lead the AL in batting average at .282, are second in slugging at .426, and are third in hits. The quality of their at-bats does not stop there as Kansas City also has the fewest strikeouts accounted for in the American League, and are second in on base percentage. The Royals have discovered the formula for success by having quality plate appearances, getting on base, and not beating themselves with poor execution.
In addition to making their trips to the plate count, the KC pitching staff also continues to do their job as well. As the month of May closes, the staff has the third best team ERA in the AL at 3.53. The bullpen led by the shutdown arms of Wade Davis, Greg Holland, Jason Frasor, and the resurgent Ryan Madson have a collective 1.91 bullpen ERA. The Royals have certainly found a way to shorten games and shut down the opposition.
Even with the loss of James Shields, the starting rotation is finding success as well. When Yordano Ventura is not finding himself in the middle of skirmishes, he is producing number one starter results. Currently, the Royals have allowed the fewest earned runs and fewest home runs in the American League. Kansas City also leads the American League in run differential.
They may not have big-name players, or big-name contracts on their hands, but the Kansas City Royals have created a winning bunch. Manager Ned Yost may not have a lineup that will win a home run derby, but he does have a staff that will win 1-0 games. How have the Royals turned into the team to beat in the AL Central, and a playoff contender? By doing the things that may not always end up on the highlight reel. Kansas City has created the Royal way of winning baseball.